Translation and the sacred: Translating scripture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Defining the sacred is a complex problem. For the purposes of this essay, it is understood as the writing of scriptures in long-standing religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism among others. The essay begins by asking about translatability, that is, whether the beliefs of one religion might in themselves be translatable into another cultural context and retain their sacred character. It then considers cases where the sacred is not considered translatable, primarily in monotheistic religions. Although the essay is not a history of scriptural translation, it draws upon various historical exempla to consider problems in the translation of sacred texts, be they philological, theological, historical, esthetic, or practical. While the Bible, as the most translated book in history, is one of the most useful examples for such a purpose, the Torah and Qur’an also come under consideration, as do Buddhist sutras.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to Translation Studies
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781118613504
ISBN (Print)9780470671894
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Bible
  • King james bible
  • Kumarajiva
  • Qur’an
  • Septuagint
  • Sutra
  • Torah
  • Translatability
  • Vulgate
  • William tyndale


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